An enormous basking shark
has been delighting locals and tourists in Cornwall
in what is believed to be the first such sighting in 20 years.
The beautiful creature accidentally swam into the Looe harbour
on Sunday, where crowds gathered on the town's quayside and Banjo Pier to get a rare glimpse at such close quarters.
The animal was said to be between 8ft and 10ft and spent about an hour in the harbour, according to the BBC
Looe lifeboat operations manager Dave Haines said it was the first time in nearly 20 years a basking shark had been seen in the river - and he took the opportunity to get some snaps.
According to The Sun
, he said: "It's really unusual to see them there in the harbour. He went right in close to the people, I'd say he was around 8ft away.
"The shark just came in with the tide. He was trying to swim out to the river again, trying to find his way out the harbour.
"We were worried because last time they couldn't find their way out and we had to herd them out with the boats.
"He found his way out on his own though when the tide was coming in."
He added: "It was great to see him, it's not the sort of thing you see all the time - I hope I don't have to wait another 20 years to see another one."
can grow up to 39ft (12 metres) long and weigh up to seven tons.
They are spotted off Britain's coast during the summer "plankton bloom" but are not usually seen up this close.
Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust told The Sun
that it is usually a mistake if basking sharks end up in a harbour, and can be worrying in terms of how they will get out again.
But, in this instance, he said: "It is wonderful for the public to be that close to such a wonderful animal and to be able to observe it."
But basking sharks are not the only sharks Mr Peirce believes swim in British water: he says that great whites frequent our waters, and that their conditions are perfect for the predatory fish.
He explains that the availability of prey in British waters makes them an ideal hunting ground - and it's only a matter of time before his theory is proved correct.
He told the Daily Mail
: "The real surprise is that we don't have an established white shark population, because the conditions here mirror those in parts of South Africa, Australia and northern California.
"The normal range of water temperature for great whites is between 14C and 20C which fits with British water in the summer."
Of more than 80 reported sightings of great whites in British waters that Richard has investigated over the last 14 years, only seven have been credible.
Discover some of Cornwall's best beaches below - if you dare...
- Lusty Glaze
One of Newquay's famous five beaches, this perfect horseshoe-shaped cove is great for swimmers, surfers and families. <strong>Don't miss:</strong> the Kitchen beach bar, with its laid-back atmosphere and music events, was recently named as one of Europe's finest in an Orange holiday guide. Who needs St Tropez when you can have Lusty Glaze?</p>
With its white sand and frothy rollers, Gwithain beach is a real gem, and a particularly good spot for sunsets. Stretching for more than three miles right up to Godrevy Point, if you get this far you may be lucky enough to see the seal colony. Look out for pods of dolphins, too. <strong>Gourmet tip:</strong> Stop for a homemade cake at the Jam Pot, a listed historic building overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay.</p>
- Mawgan Porth
By far one of the prettiest, safest and expansive beaches in the area, Mawgan Porth offers fabulous swimming, family surfing and body boarding. <strong>Top tip:</strong> Book in for a family sufing lesson at <a href="http://www.kingsurf.co.uk/" target="_blank">Kingsurf</a> – the affable owner, Pete Abell, is an inspiration. Oh, and make sure you have a cream tea at the Merrymore Inn afterwards.</p>
- Bedruthan Steps
Bedruthan Steps forms part of one of the most spectacular sections of the north Cornwall coast. Huge outcrops of volcanic rock are scattered along the length of the beach – you can walk around them at low tide. <strong>Perfect if you:</strong> are relatively fit. Access to the beach is via a long and very steep staircase.... Arriving is more fun than leaving.</p>
- Crantock Beac
Although it's only a stonesthrow away from bustling Newquay, Crantock is a different world. This is a secret spot for avoiding the summer crowds: due to its relative remoteness, Crantock offers relative calm during the peak season. <strong>Top tip:</strong> Take the ferry from Newquay to Crantock Bay and stop at the <a href="http://www.fernpit.co.uk/" target="_blank">Fern Pit Café</a>.</p>
Set in a steep valley, Portreath was once a busy port but it's now left largely to holidaymakers, surfers, and the odd fisherman. <strong>Perfect for:</strong> Scenic walks. The coastal footpath west towards St Ives Bay offers some jolly good scenery of the coastline, dotted by Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth – names which bear testament to the tales of shipwrecks and smuggling in the area.</p>
- Harlyn Bay
Backed by lovely dunes and cliffs just a couple of miles outside Padstow, Harlyn Bay offers lots to explore and a sweeping cove popular with surfers. <strong>Don't miss:</strong> The cliffs at Trevose Head, which offer amazing views towards Pentire Head and Newquay beyond.</p>
- Trevone Bay
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, I think secluded Trevone beach is well worth a visit. A perfect mix of sand and rockpools makes it a lovely spot for families. <strong>Perfect if you:</strong> love crabbing or collecting shells.</p>
- Polzeath Beach
Despite being one of the most popular beaches in north Cornwall, Polzeath still somehow manages to maintain a laid-back, typically Cornish character. The influx of families, surfers, bodyboarders, kayakers and sunbathers all mix happily on this glorious beach in unspoilt surroundings. <strong>Best for:</strong> Everyone. Last time I was here it was pouring with rain... but the kids still absolutely loved running around in their wetsuits on the open sands.</p>
<a href="http://www.visitbude.info/site/tourist-information/hire-a-beach-hut" target="_blank">Bude</a> is all about soft sand and space for everybody, with top-notch surfing. The eastern end of Summerleaze beach you'll find a seawater swimming pool, which is re-filled by the tide every day. <strong>Top tip:</strong> Bag yourself a beach hut at Summerleaze or Crooklets beach, with prices from £62 per week.</p>
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